A new bill going through the Texas legislature would address one of form of distracted driving: using a cell phone while driving. The bill, SB 31, follows a similar measure, HB 62, which passed the House of Representatives in March.
These bills, if they become law, would make it a criminal act to read, write or send an electronic message while driving. It would also be illegal to talk on a cellphone without the use of a hands-free device or speakerphone option. Exceptions would apply if a cellphone is being used during an emergency or to report illegal activity.
Many cities in Texas already have ordinances or local laws prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving, but this bill would make these laws throughout the whole state.
Why Texas is Concerned About Distracted Driving and What to Do If Charged
There are three categories of distraction while driving: manual, cognitive and visual. Manual distractions take your hands off the wheel. Cognitive distractions take your mind off the task of driving. Visual distractions take your eyes off the road. What makes cell phones, and specifically the act of texting while driving, so dangerous is that they fall into all three categories of distraction. The average driver who is texting takes his or her eyes off the road for five seconds – at 55mph, that person travels the length of a football field, essentially blindfolded. For this and other reasons, lawmakers believe criminalizing the behavior can help with public safety.
If you are charged with distracted driving crimes in Texas, a criminal defense attorney can help you have your charges reduced or dismissed.